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Update from Paul Michael

24 May 2024

Update from Paul Michael

As Pre-Season fast approaches, we caught up with Paul Michael for him to share his thoughts on the season just ending, as well as getting an update on his preparations for the 2024/25 season.

1. It’s coming up to just under a month since that final game of the 2023/24 season, how are things progressing since that 7-1 victory over Harrow Borough?

Tough, very tough to be honest. Obviously first of all there was the disappointment of missing out by that single point. That hurt us, as players and staff and I know it hurt the supporters too. So initially it was a case of trying to get over that disappointment which of course lingered watching Salisbury go up and the play-offs from the sidelines. Then secondly as a manager this is a very busy period trying to sign up the players that are going to take us to the next level next season. That’s our players from last season who we believe will continue improving, whilst facing competition for their signatures from clubs looking to take them away but also identifying the players that we feel can fit in with what we need to do next season to be better than this season. Doing all that within our means is always a challenge for any manager or head coach and it takes countless hours, but now as we get over the disappointment of the end of last season the excitement builds and as the squad gets closer to completion the belief grows that we can do something special next season.

2. Obviously it was a tough end to the season, just missing out on the play-offs by a point, however, there was still further progression made - how do you feel that the last two seasons since you’ve been in charge will help you going into your third season at Penydarren Park?

Once you get over the disappointment you have to accept that where you finish in a league season is where you deserve to finish so that’s it, we were 6th out of 22. And in the cold light of day it is further progress. The first two months show us the way and the final two months show us what we need to improve on, so let’s do it! I think all our supporters and owners know where we are in the food chain compared to the top budgets in the division and that we are doing well as a club and the players are doing really well for us giving their all for success. Maybe that final day win against Harrow Borough should be more the mark of our progress. Two years ago we got a reprieve, went on to rebuild and finish 9th then 6th whilst adding in an FA Cup 1st round appearance. Harrow Borough got a reprieve a year later and have ended up relegated again. Am I content with where we are? No, let’s improve again.

3. The league allocations were confirmed last week by the FA, with six new teams coming into the Southern League Premier South for the new season - how do you feel the league compares to last season?

I think it’s a fantastic league! Havant and Waterlooville were full time last season, Gloucester city was two seasons ago & Taunton coming down is a big one too. You’ve got Totton looking at the EFL long term, and 3 teams coming in with momentum from below. In terms of pitches Havant & Glos are 3G, Wimborne is a great grass surface and I think Taunton & Frome are better than Chesham & Didcot, Winchester is going 3G, our home record was ever so slightly better than away last season so hopefully the better surfaces will suit our style and the travelling is slightly less so I’m now absolutely looking forward to the challenges ahead.

4. There are a number of individuals who have been contributing to the clubs ‘Boost The Budget’ campaign for a number of seasons, and the club alongside the owners have re-launched the initiative for the new season - how will that help you in building your squad?

We are fan owned, we don’t have someone backing the club bringing in ex-Premier League strikers as a Director of Football, so when people buy an ownership, a season ticket and then back the boost the budget with their hard-earned cash, it is not only humbling but motivating. The strength of this club is its supporters, and every donation makes such a difference at this club. I’m looking forward to sharing with everyone over the next couple of weeks what these pledges and donations have contributed to when announcing the players on board for next season.

5. The clear positive from last season was the many individual performances and improvements shown by the large majority of the squad, and this has obviously brought a lot of attention from other clubs in the close season - can you provide an update on the squad and those who will be returning?

Well, I know the supporters are desperate for this information. All I can say is we have been working tirelessly to retain our talented players and we’ve done our absolute best within the club’s means to keep them. We’re dotting I’s and crossing T’s and hopefully we can get this info out at the beginning of next week.

6. Building on those who you have agreed to return to Penydarren Park for the 2024/25 season, are there any new signings fans can expect to see?

Similarly to the players that are returning, there are a couple of irons in the fire and hopefully the supporters can get something to be excited about over the next couple of weeks!

So, Martyrs fans keep an eye out on social media in the coming days as we begin to announce our returning squad members, as well as possibly some new faces!

If you want to contribute to the 2024/25 Boost The Budget initiative, you can by visiting;

One-Off Donation -

Alternative Donation Options -

Thank you as always for your continued support!

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